By Abubakar Aliyu Gombe
If there are words to describe the recently held Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) North-East Zonal rally, led by the Chairman of Atiku/Obi Campaign Organisation in the zone, Gov. Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo, they will certainly not be words linked to success. Signs are very important in anything we venture into in life and one must not pretend about issues when they are not right. Making people believe what is not may have dire consequence when reality comes calling. As the 2019 general elections approach and politicians are becoming tourists with talents for political athletics, while displaying uncontrollable desperation.
As it is often said, horses can be taken to the river but the task of drinking water is an exclusive reserve of the horse. There were allegations that the PDP paid some youths in Gombe the sum of N1, 000 to attend the North-East Zonal rally just to give the impression that they still own the state as such have the audacity to say they have intimidated other parties especially the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state. During the rally, an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), commonly known as a drone, was used to beam the activities live on some media outfits and many of the PDP stalwart went on air to say they have the crowd to win 2019 and unseat President Muhammadu Buhari, and also defeat Alhaji Inuwa Yahaya in Gombe. One of such persons is Gov. Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo. The governor’s media whose aide went online to describe the rally as a huge success, noting that it was an ‘unprecedented crowd’ that was recorded when Atiku came to Gombe. He emphasised that the PDP in Gombe wasn’t joking. But with the rented PDP crowd that has the heart of APC, can we really say the PDP is serious? I am not trying to be satirical but I think the aide to the governor needs aid to know the reality of events as it is now being played out. I refuse to share in that optimism not because I am a member of the APC but for two reasons that signal the fact that APC has become a political religion whose supporters can’t be brainwashed or cajoled into going against their wish.
Horses can be taken to the river but they can’t be forced to drink the PDP water in Nigeria and Gombe State. We were made to believe that the Gombe stadium was filled as the photos rightly portrayed on the pages of newspapers and other PDP-owned media. But the first thing that the PDP ignored was ‘The other side of the stadium that was empty’ I think Nigerians would have loved to see the full stadium from all sides. In a zone, where PDP claims to be strong in Northern Nigeria: Gombe, Taraba, Adamawa, Bauchi, Yobe and Borno States, they could not garner supporters to fill a 12, 000 capacity Pantami stadium in Gombe. I am not saying this because I have political honey in my mouth, but I know that an ordinary counsellorship rally by the APC in Gombe State can create enough challenge in terms of crowd control using the same venue. For those PDP members who really needed to reflect, they should ask themselves what happened to the other side of the stadium. The simple answer lies in what everybody in Gombe knows as captured by one of the fall out article of the PDP rally: ‘Buhari’s spirit, Atiku’s image in Gombe’. This shows that the PDP has simply become very unpopular courtesy of the APC tornado style of leadership that sees social investment programme and other people-oriented programmes as sacrosanct part of President Buhari’s administration. The unpopularity of the PDP is not unconnected to the paucity of ideas and freedom to massive looting as it is being craftily engineered by the government of the day. Series of articles have been written on the debt-driven style of leadership in a state where the government nags the media that their Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) has increased in billions of naira, yet they turn around to say there is not enough money for development.
The second point that should be a cause of worry for the PDP in Nigeria and Gombe is the fact that the crowd inside the stadium kept echoing the name of President Muhammadu Buhari, whenever the MC shouts 2019! When the PDP national chairman, Prince Uche Secondus and other stalwarts of the party were shouting 2019! ‘Sai Baba’ was heard as response alongside Atiku. For the doubting Thomas, kindly get a clip of the video and listen to the sound track properly. The conflict in response evidently shows that you can force a horse to the river you cannot force it to drink. It is true that the strength of supporters determines the weight that any political party can pull to win election but in Gombe today, it is better to always run a heart check of those you claim to be your supporters. From the look of things, the PDP in Nigeria and Gombe has supporters whose hearts are APC. The PDP has failed to read the writing in Gombe and I know they will pay dearly for such as far as the colour of the contemporary politics in Gombe is concerned.
To shock those in the PDP as well as justify the advice that the PDP should do a heart check of members, a stalwart of the PDP who was eavesdropped on, was caught to have said that some of the people in the PDP especially in Gombe State would do to Atiku what some of the members did to Ex- President Goodluck Jonathan in the 2015 elections. According to him, they will ‘eat’ Atiku’s money and leave him stranded on Election Day in Gombe State. The PDP should face the moment of truth; Gombe is already a lost ground.
If the crowd that trouped out to grace the occasion of the APC campaign launch is anything to go by, then the PDP is in trouble. Those that questioned Dr Jamilu Isyaku Gwamna’s exit from the PDP should now understand better that Gwamna doesn’t belong to the loosing team and his decision to dump the PDP has been justified. Everyone in Gombe State needs change and not to stick with the same failed system with a different personality. If a senator whose senatorial district has been confirmed even by its indigenes to be the poorest zone in the state has done nothing to wield his federal might to galvanize the industrialization of his zone with all the comparative advantages in terms of minerals and arable farmlands, what then is the guarantee that he will offer the state good governance or does the hope lie in the deputy who couldn’t secure the PDP senatorial candidate seat for himself?
For those of them in the PDP that still think that the dollars that rained in Port Harcourt will do the magic in Gombe are to be pitied of all politicians because the Gombe of today have developed a thick skin against vote-buying and money politics.
Aliyu Abubakar writes from Gombe and can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org